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Urgent UN Appeal For South Sudan Food Aid

Refugees wait for food aid to be distributed near the volatile border with the north, in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, November 16, 2011.
The United Nations is calling for more than $500 million in emergency aid for the people of South Sudan. Late last year the UN appealed for nearly $800 million to fund humanitarian operations in South Sudan but it received about a third of that amount.

The UN said the bulk of the $505 million it needs would go toward providing food to tens of thousands of South Sudanese, many of whom are returning home from Sudan. The UN Humanitarian Aid Program Coordinator in South Sudan, Lisa Grande, said assessments by the government of South Sudan and UN agencies both indicate 4.7 million people, or about half the population of the entire country, are food insecure this year.

Grande said the amount of food needed for the region has doubled compared to last year.

’There are food shortages, there is conflict related displacements, there is agricultural disruption, the economy is deteriorating and the borders have been closed. You add up all that and that is why we have the kind of situation that we are in,” she said.

The highest percentages of people in need of food assistance are located along the Sudan-South Sudan border. The United Nations said food prices in those areas have doubled, even tripled in some cases. In addition to providing food, the UN said it needs more aid to support refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where civilians have been repeatedly bombed by Sudanese Armed Forces.

The head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Agency in South Sudan, Mireille Girard said she is worried about the increasing number of new arrivals. ‘’This is an on-going struggle for humanitarian workers to meet the needs of these new arrivals. We had about 30, 50 or 80 persons arriving in a day in unity state.’’ Grande said the austerity measures introduced by the government of South Sudan are making things worse for the citizens.

Aid agencies said the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations are supporting more than 375,000 South Sudanese who have returned from Sudan in the last 18 months. Another 20,000 people have been displaced because of recent fighting along the border. International aid workers are also giving support to an estimated 170,000 people affected by inter-communal fighting in Jonglei State since early, and hundreds of thousands people displaced by fighting between South Sudan Army and the Sudan Armed Forces in Abyei last year.